Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Kirsties Handmade Fair...

This post is rather later than I expected. Sorry.

Kirsties Handmade Fair...

We had a lovely day out. The sun shone and Hampton Court Palace is a wonderful place to visit.

The fair was just across the street from the palace.

 So many treasures...

A Ragged Life

Doily bunting. You know it makes sense.

 Stunning fabrics by the metre...

  Blankets begging to be touched.

I wasn't interested in paying retail prices for fabrics, but if you are, I must say I saw some truly exquisite textiles.

I like to look at other peoples ideas...

And spot celebs...

Terrible picture! We were on our knees peeping under a tent flap at the big top. There were plenty of craft demonstrations to choose from.

The most delicious food area. Something for everyone...

Even some vintage entertainment...

And a bit of pom pom making finished the day nicely...

I took my recycled tapestry bag... 

and two people told me they liked it so I was very chuffed. It was even better than being mobbed by women wanting to stroke it.

There's a HANDMADE CHRISTMAS FAIR in Manchester from Fri 20th til Sun 22nd Nov (this weekend!) if you fancy a day out. You'll probably find some lovely Christmas pressies there.

I also attended the FESTIWOOL this weekend which I loved. It was only £3 to get in and had THE. MOST. AMAZING crochet and knitting I've ever seen. I felt like a dunce as I wandered round as I can do neither.

I forgot my camera but I'll show you what came home with me...

A wool necklace from Wool Stories. I had to get one and I'm not normally a 'had to get one' kinda gal. (Unless we're talking secondhand furniture.)
I've never seen anything like it. Mine was the most muted. She makes them in really striking colour combinations.

We saw a fashion show with the octogenarian super model Daphne Selfe taking part...

I'll definitely be going back next year.

Last of all, our Hallowe'en Haunted House was a great success. We had a steady stream of punters and even queues at the door a couple of times. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. It couldn't have gone any better. I'm still finding eyeballs around the house.

 The next challenge will be how to create a different scenario next year using all the same props!

Reading your comments though, I must say I find it more shocking when people say that NOTHING spooky has ever happened to them than when they have a tale to tell! I thought everyone had SOMETHING!

Right, I must away. I'm not going to even say, 'Back soon,' as I'm terrible at finding time to sit down and write at the moment. So many blogs to catch up with too. So I'll just wish you all well until next time.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Hallowe'en Ghost Story...

We may have gone overboard this year.

We're not having a party, more of a Haunted House experience for our Trick or Treaters. We don't normally get any as we're on the edge of town so I have leafleted the area to lure people over here. Connie and her friends will have lines to say. Should be fun... if anyone comes. If they don't, we have a lot of sweets to eat. It's a win/win situation.

Shall I tell you my ghost story? It happened four or five years ago I think. It was between Hallowe'en and Christmas.

One evening my husband was out. My daughter was upstairs sleeping. I was in the living room with the cats. The telly was on.

Suddenly both cats jerked their heads up to look at something in the hall outside. There was nothing there. The cats were frozen as whatever they saw really caught their attention. And held it. They stared, transfixed for over a minute, then finally relaxed and looked away again, settling down. A minute can be a long time.

The point they were staring at was at the height where an adults head might be if they were coming down the stairs. But no one was coming down the stairs. I was a bit puzzled by their behaviour so I went out into the hallway. Just to check if there was anything there that I couldn't see from the sofa.

What I found in the hallway was an overpowering smell of mens aftershave. No mistaking the smell. It was intense. I went upstairs to check on my daughter and she was sleeping soundly. I wasn't frightened. I just thought it was really odd.

I spent two years with a man from Kosovo who thought it was a good idea to wear two aftershaves at once.
You know, mix it up a little.
Create a little blend.
Yes, I did. Two whole years.
I am an incredibly tolerant human being.

When I smelled this overpowering fragrance I actually wondered if he had died and come to say goodbye. You know, apologise for being a total dick. Something along those lines.
(Our love did not end well.)

He hadn't died according to his facebook account a few days later. It wasn't him.

I have my suspicions about people who used to live here. I've heard stories from several sources. I wonder if it was one of them.

It's never reoccurred. I have occasionally felt afraid when going to bed but I tend to be rational and practical for the most part.

I had an odd thing happen in my last house too. Every night I'd shut my door, get into bed and turn out the light and the door would open, just a little. The door mechanism was one of those little roller ball catches, you only had to push the door open or closed, not turn a handle. But still, it was odd. Was it an ill fitting door frame do you think? Or some spirit who liked the door left open? Who knows? Again, that was never frightening either. Just puzzling.

I'm definitely a believer in the supernatural. I've had many experiences. Known things I've had no rational way of knowing but known them nonetheless. Like I know that blue is blue. An absolute certainty.
I have a friend who has felt the same thing. Once, we might have been burned at the stake as witches. Nowadays, we'd be medicated. Times change but understanding hasn't moved on a great deal.

I'd love you to share your spooky stories in the comments below.

I must away, there are pumpkins to be carved and fairy lights to unravel. I wish you all a fun filled Hallowe'en with more treats than tricks.

Linking with...

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Down at the bottom of the garden...

I've been taking advantage of the mild dry weather to work on the shed. Like a woman posessed.

Are any of you familiar with the childrens book, ''If you give a mouse a cookie,'' by Laura Joffe Numeroff?

It goes, ''If you give a mouse a cookie, he's going to ask for a glass of milk. When you give him the milk, he'll probably ask you for a straw. When he's finished, he'll ask you for a napkin. Then he'll want to look in a mirror to make sure he doesn't have a milk mustache. When he looks in the mirror, he might notice his hair needs a trim.'' etc

Well, that was the story of my shed. My shed WAS that mouse. 

The parts where the rain were coming in were growing in number so I decided to re roof it. I did my internet research and trotted off to Wickes for all my supplies. 

I had one day to get it watertight before rain was due. Nothing focuses the mind like a deadline. 
I had to strip off the old felt before I began and the minute I got up the ladder to begin, I could see why it was leaking. What little roofing felt that was up there was very patchy.  
Inspect your shed roofs occasionally people! 

The roof guy in the film I watched...

... mentions nothing of the woodlice, spiders and spiders nests you will find when stripping a roof! Eew.

My biggest fear was finding the roof boards completely rotten and having to replace them. Fixing an entire new roof on is probably beyond my capability. Luckily it was sound apart from one spongey corner. The best tool I found for the job was an upholstery tool called a tack lifter...

 It totally sped the process up.
So here I am, well stuck in. My roof is a single slope. I did 2 layers, going in opposite directions. The first from one side to another, the second from the bottom up. Like tiles so the water will run off.

You seal the edges with the bitumin adhesive and use clout nails to hold it down. It's like wallpapering except you need to overlap the edges. As I was doing it solo I opted for the heavy weight roofing felt so I'd be able to weild the sheets onto the roof without them ripping. 

The bloke in the roofing video also forgot to mention the need for gloves and long sleeves. I got bitumin under my lovely new nails and had to soak them in white spirit to get it out. Also I skinned my knuckles until they bled and got a rash up the underside of my arms.

Once my two layers were on, I had to cut and fix down the edges. 

A typically wonky picture. I was seriously flagging at this point having been at it for 9 hours. 

The rain came the next day and there wasn't a drop of water in the strategically placed buckets inside. Result! 

Next I had to put back the fascia and bargeboards. Seeing as one snapped in the stripping process and they were a bit yucky I decided to get new ones. Finding the timber was a nightmare. In the end I used feather edge boards from a timber merchant to get the length I needed. 

So I thought, instead of just putting back straight ones, why not make them pretty? 

I made lots of measurements and divisions and drew round a glass to get a scalloped edge. I should have used a pencil and not lazily grabbed my daughters gel ink pen. The gel ink bled through my paint and I had to use a stain stopping primer over it. Lesson learned.

The cutting proved to be not so easy. I could manage one side of each scallop,

 but not the other so I flipped it over and re drew the line on the back of the board...

and Bob's your uncle...

Wehey! Obviously, it needed painting now. But I couldn't paint it until I'd fixed the missing putty in the windows! See how it's becoming a massive job? 

So back to youtube I went, watching hours of puttying videos until I felt I was a fully trained master glazier. 
And boy, was I wrong about that! In the end I gave up on the putty knife and opted for a chisel, perhaps because the rebate was so tiny as these are shed windows, not house windows.

So where am I now? 

I painted the trim and window frames (apart from the new putty which has to cure) a white colour and the rest of the shed Willow Green for a change from Country Cream. I like the contrast with the trim. It's never going to be a beautiful shed but it's a bit prettier now. And having watertight garden storage is novel.

I spent a day emptying and hoovering the inside and reorganising the space. 
All because it needed a new roof. 
So, beware of what you start!
Now those red gingham curtains are not working with the green... {sigh.}

Back soon with a post on The Handmade Fair. 

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Recycled Tapestry Bags Galore... and a tutorial. Of sorts.

Alrighty. I have completed not just one tapestry bags but TWO!

And here, for your viewing pleasure, is a glimpse of the journey I undertook. This might not be 'the' way to make a bag, but it's my way.

1. Play about with your tapestries until you have a layout that pleases the eye. This may take several days.

Ignore any funny looks you may get from your family during this procedure.

I personally like having the plain background pieces next to the busy background pieces.

2. Press them flat under a damp tea towel, fuse some fusible interfacing on the back (I think this might add strength to the flimsier bits and also hold it together better when you start cutting.)

3. It's unlikely that your pieces will be square. Square them up with a try square from your toolbox.

4. Do not use marker pen to do this as you'll get marker pen on the ironing board. Oops.

5. Zig zag those raw edges. Twice. Because you don't want the whole thing to unravel.

6. For the next piece, repeat the steps above and make it the same height as the first then pin them, right sides together...

This is really just a gratuitous shot of my fingernails as I've been growing them and for the first time in 27 years I have hands like a laydee!

7. That makes it sound like I'm 27 years old. I'm slightly older than that. Stitch together with a generous 2cm seam allowance and press seam open...

Yes it does look wonky.

Better from the front thankfully.

8. Carry on with your next row pressing the seams open. If you offset the joins it will stop the back getting bulky and will run through your machine better when you join your rows.

9. Join your rows. Press seams open.

10. Check for squareness again. Mine needed re squaring for some reason. If you chop bits off, zig zag your edges again. You can add a strip of the bag backing on to the top if you need to, to give you a decent fold over so you're not losing too much of the design.

11. Ignore the voices in your head, nagging you about the ironing pile that needs doing. Don't stop. If you stop you'll NEVER pick it up again. This is a scientifically proven fact. Stop taking photos of your work to save time. Who needs to see a photo of a seam pressed open anyway?

12. Cut a back piece the same size as the front. Zig zag edges, place right sides together and stitch 3 sides together leaving the top open. Clip corners and zig zag over them. You can also add a gusset at this point if you have nothing better to do or like a roomy bag.

13. Turn inside out and fold in top hem. Stitch this down.

14. Add your handles.


And the other one? I took off the handle to use on the bag above and found a leather belt in a charity shop to use as a handle. My local independent and quite attractive cobbler riveted it on for me and I left the ends of the belt on for added quirkiness. That jangly buckle is going to drive me insane though...

Do come back in a year or so when I'll be finally attempting to LINE the bags. I have now earned a much needed break from sewing and I have to tackle the ironing.

I shall be taking my bag to Kirsties Handmade Fair this weekend where I will no doubt be mobbed by women wanting to stroke it. It's very tactile.
Kirstie will want to commission one and I will tell her I did all the tapestries myself and charge her hundreds of pounds. In spite of this we'll become best friends. We'll go to Magaluf together where we'll get up to all kinds of mischief.

So I'll let you know how I get on with that. 

Linking with...

 Savvy Southern Style